This Tuesday I am loving this necklace my friend gave me.  I wore it last weekend and forgot to post a picture of it.  The reason why I love it so much is because there is a STORY behind it.

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It's from Branded Collective and the reason it's so special is because a survivor of human trafficking made it.  Branded is an empowerment program where the women collaborate with local artisans to handcraft jewelry.  Each one of these pieces of jewelry contains a unique number and letter that represents one of the MILLIONS (can you believe that number??) that are trapped in this nightmare.  You can go online to their website and actually read about the girl that made your necklace or bracelet.  Not the story of their nightmare... but of their brave life going forward afterwards.  

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What my dear friend Jeanne Oliver didn't know is that my husband and I have supported a few groups in our area that help get women out this horrific situation for many years.  With three daughters it's a cause that is very close to our hearts. In fact so scary close to even imagine that my husband has had to go to the meetings/events alone.  I know that may sound so cowardly or selfish and I'm embarrassed to admit that.  As a mom raising three beautifully innocent young girls though, I had a really hard time not freaking out that that could happen to our daughters and I couldn't be that involved, or that "close" to it when our girls were younger.  Now, with the help from our church who really has taken up this battle, I can stand up and help fight for these young girls and boys and it's something that has been on my heart lately.  

So I guess this necklace came just at the right time.  

I've gone onto their website and read about the girl who made mine.  Wow, it was so wonderful to read about her brave soul.  She's CREATIVE and generous and FORGIVING!  I love her story and am praying for her.  Who knows... maybe one day we will meet.

So thank you Jeanne, it's a gift that matters, a gift that makes me think...and I love it.

If you want to give this kind of gift, go check out Branded Collective, they also have a beautiful Instagram account by the same name.  

If you want to help fight this battle,  (and it's a battle that needs people to PRAY HARD first) please make a donation or help of your time to these great organizations below.  Look at what they are fighting against:

Can you believe this statistic:  "Human trafficking earns profits of roughly $150 billion a year for traffickers."  That is HORRIFIC!  It isn't going anywhere unless we ALL do something.  

Here are some that we have worked with, supported and really want to shine a light on:

Stuart House of Santa Monica

Operation Safe House

Treasures

Polaris Project

Alabaster Jar Project

Global Center for Women & Justice - Vanguard University

VictorMarx - All Things Possible Ministries

One last thing that I will say in regards to this.  As parents of three girls it is hard to imagine something like this happening to one of our girls, or to ANY girl!  It is pure evil and is just so scary to even THINK about.  And as we have talked about this to other parents I see this desire to "stick your head in the sand" and not confront the reality of this evil.  I WAS THERE, so I KNOW!  But we must NOT do that.  We must be aware.  That includes knowing your local area and what is going on locally.  TALKING to your children about this horrible reality.  Let them see (at age appropriate times) some of the movies that are on this subject.   Priceless and Taken are two that come to mind.  Make your kids AWARE that this IS out there, and then EQUIP them with knowledge to help them discern for themselves what are not good situations to put themselves in.  Get them into self defense classes if you can.  It's not something that just happens in "bad areas" and we have to help educate our kids.  Not to scare them or shelter them... but to EMPOWER them.  To give them the "tools" they need, the skill set to do their best at being protected and NEVER have this happen to them.   

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And PRAY.  

Pray for a hedge of protection around them daily.  Pray for the evil to be overcome.  Pray for the people fighting to bring a LIGHT to this horrible darkness.  Pray to ask the Lord to show you how you can help.  (That's a scary one I am praying over, and it's something that has taken me a long time to be open or ready for)  

Pray these verses over them:

Psalm 46:1 says: "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble."

2 Thessalonians 3:3 says: "But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one."

And put on the WHOLE ARMOR of GOD.  

"Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes." Ephesians 6:11.

This is something I need to make a habit of and I don't.  I talked about it in a past blog post and will be honest with you and tell you that I don't think about this daily.... but I want to!  I was just having a conversation with one of my girls last week about this.  This is the SOLID ROCK that we can stand on, and NEED in our daily lives.  The enemy is real and wants to mess with us, there's no getting around that.  And when you are following the path God has for you, it's not going to make the enemy happy.  So reminding ourselves to put on the FULL ARMOR of GOD is GOOD. Lord, let this sink into our minds and be in our hearts daily.

One of my favorite verses GIVES US HOPE:

John 10:10 "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly."

We just went through this chapter in church last Sunday. Jesus Christ wants us to have a life ABUNDANT.  Don't stay stuck in fear or hopelessness.  Cling to the HOPE and protection that is in Christ.

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Yes and Amen!

Hugs to all,

Laura

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